Innovation 500 – Leadership

To kick things off for October we want to encourage everyone to think about the topic of Leadership and either send us a blog post from you or your team via email to [] for inclusion or simply add your comments below.  If you don’t think this is for you at the moment but are interested then sign up so we can keep you informed as we develop.

To give you a flavour we have included some thoughts below from Sarah and Bill

Some thoughts from Sarah

This month we celebrated 75 years since the ‘Battle of Britain’. That decisive victory, in the summer of 1940, is believed by many to have turned the tide of that terrible war. 1940 also saw a change in leadership as Winston Churchill replaced Neville Chamberlain. Churchill came into power primarily because the style of leadership needed in times of war is very different from leadership needed in more peaceful times. The type of leader needed is always dependent on the situation at hand; thus a good leader will have a variety of leadership styles or modes that they can deploy for different circumstances. Taking a step back from the minute details of changing circumstances, we can also see that there has been a general trend of evolving leadership across human history. I think this is best understood by thinking of the various characters of the Wizard of Oz.  (Bear with me, it will make sense!)

In early human history we formed small tribes who would compete with one another for resources such as food, shelter and water.  In these times we needed a leader like the Lion; a leader who needed courage, who was strong enough to be able to beat off other tribes and guarantee essential resources.

Over time, these small tribes united or were conquered by a strong leader, thus forming small nations. In this world larger military campaigns were needed. The leader therefore could not rely on their own courage and strength, but would need to be tactical in their deployment of troops. The leader needed in these times was like the Scarecrow: in need of brains alongside the courage and strength of the Lion.

Skip forward to the modern day, and although we want leaders who display intelligence and have strength of character, we also want our leaders to display empathy. Leaders need to know how to relate to their people, not just be able to tactically deploy them. We want a leader like the Tin Man, a leader with a heart as well as the intelligence of the Scarecrow and the strength of the Lion.

Some thoughts from Bill

Brazilian business guru and expert on leadership, Rosa Krausz, identified four leadership styles.  She linked these to types of power, the way workers typically respond and how each style affects organisational effectiveness.

4 leadership styles

The four styles are further described by a two-by-two matrix where the energy expanded in the act of leading is plotted against organisational outcomes or results.  Each style is discussed below:

Coercive – This style involves forcing people to obey or carry out a task through physical or emotional threats. It works only when a leader has positional power in an organisation and the power to be coercive. Threats and coercive action includes things like, imposing sanctions for non compliance, for instance loss of job or position, violence, allocation of unpleasant or demeaning duties, shouting, blaming and isolation from co-workers. It is a lazy style of leadership requiring very little effort on behalf of the leader who rules in a culture of fear and blame.  It fails to produce effective organisational results because employees tend to keep their heads down, doing only what they are told to do and are fearful of taking decisions for themselves.

Controlling – this style involves telling people what to do, how to do it and when it will be done.  It includes micro-managing; this is where a leader will take over by instructing or doing a task that is appropriately delegated to an employee.  With this style leaders use both positional power and the power to reward. It takes a great deal of the leader’s time and energy as they do their own job and that of others too. Like the coercive style it is inefficient as the style creates dependency on the leader.  Employees are less likely to either think for themselves or to initiate action.

Coaching – with a coaching style of leadership the leader acknowledges his or hers’ responsibility for the development of employees. They use the power of knowledge and the power of support, where, by being supportive they stimulate the involvement of others.  They view every interaction with their teams as an opportunity to develop people.  When asked a question like, “What should I do?” they will say something like, “What options have you already considered?”  In such a situation workers are encouraged to think and to take responsibility for their actions.  Consequently they have greater satisfaction in their work, which they find interesting and engaging.  It may require some energy from the leader initially however once employees start thinking for themselves and develop both skills and confidence so they become increasingly self-reliant and autonomous.

Co-participative –Krausz calls this participative I have added the ‘co’ as this leadership style involves the leader co-creating the vision for their service or operation in conjunction with their teams.  They encouraged followers to use initiative and their own determination to own the vision and deliver the plan. In co-participative leadership the leader uses interpersonal competence, a power based on their emotional intelligence and ability to relate to others. This style encourages workers to feel engaged in their work; they take pride in what they do and ownership of it; as a result they are more productive.  This style reminds me of the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lau Tzu’s saying, “When the best leader’s work is done the people say, ‘We did it ourselves!’ “

Situational Leadership – In situational leadership models the leader selects the most appropriate style for the individual worker and the situation.  This is true in some respects for all these leadership styles although coercive and controlling styles have inherent dangers and limitations.  Coercive leadership should only take place if the worker has proved unwilling to change or improve their performance.  It is the option of the last resort. That said threats of violence and blame are never acceptable.  A controlling style should only be used when the individual concerned lacks the will or capability and needs help in doing their job.  In this instance a coaching style could well be a better option.

Ref. Rosa Krausz, Power and Leadership in Organizations, Transactional Analysis Journal, Vol. 16(2), Apr 1986, 85-94.

Carl Haggerty

All things digital - content, strategy, communications, innovation, engagement, participation, data and people

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